Deputy Director, Agricultural Research and Development, retired The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Innovation has been the key driver of food and nutritional security for the past several millennia, with the most rapid progress since 1950. Breakthroughs in breeding and quality seeds, soil health, water supply and pest/disease management radically improved the productivity and reliability of our food supply. We have increased the use of fertilizer and irrigation to levels close to their economic and biophysical limits - further improvements will come mostly from increased efficiency of use, not scale of use. The information based technologies of genetics and precision management practices will drive most of the future gains. Equitable access by all farmers to better technology has multiplied the benefits of these breakthroughs in rich and middle income countries, but remains the key, unrealized driver of progress in poor countries that desperately need to foster economic growth and poverty reduction.